Coronavirus causes Preston and Chorley elections to be postponed

Local elections in Preston and Chorley, which were due to take place this year, have been postponed for twelve months because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The government said the situation made it impractical to allow voting to go ahead on 7th May, because it was likely to coincide with a peak in the spread of the virus.

Preston and Chorley had been preparing to vote for local councillors and the whole of Lancashire for a police and crime commissioner

Preston and Chorley had been preparing to vote for local councillors and the whole of Lancashire for a police and crime commissioner

Chorley had been preparing to hold an “all-out” election to elect a completely new chamber, following recent boundary changes in the borough which saw the number of wards and councillors reduced.

Council leader Alistair Bradley said he “totally understood” the reason for the delay.

“It’s important to protect the public and put the health of our residents first. We are taking the lead of national guidance which is updated regularly and we continue to be active members of the Lancashire Resilience Forum," he added.

Preston City Council held an all-out poll for after internal ward boundary changes last year - but was due to return to its usual cycle of voting in May.

The authority’s chief executive Adrian Phillips, said: “This is an emerging situation we have just received notification of.

“The Government has made the announcement to postpone the May elections but detailed information has not yet been made available.

“We expect all currently elected councillors will remain in post for a further year.

“The council and partners continue to focus on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. We know this endeavour will be a marathon rather than a sprint.”

South Ribble, Fylde, Wyre and Ribble Valley councils elect every four years and only went to the polls last May. Lancashire County Council's next election is not due until 2021.

Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw, who was due to seek a third term of office on the same day as the local elections, said the postponement of the poll was “the only sensible option”.

“We all need to focus our efforts now on public health and supporting the most vulnerable, not fighting elections.

“My office will continue doing everything we can to ensure that services continue and people are kept as safe as possible,” the Labour commissioner said.

His Tory challenger for the post, Hoghton with Wheelton county councillor Andrew Snowden said: “Whilst it’s hugely disappointing that the election has been cancelled, as we had such a positive plan to make Lancashire safer, people’s health and well-being should always come first.

“There will be huge sighs of relief from the Labour camp - from the PCC down to local councillors - who had been put on notice by voters for simply failing to deliver what communities across Lancashire need. We’ll see them at the ballot box in a year’s time”